Soaring Free Shakes Loose in Shakertown

Sam-Son Farms' Soaring Free got a surprisingly strong challenge from 34-1 Chosen Chief but responded to strong urging from jockey Shane Sellers to win the $115,100 Shakertown (gr. IIIT) for turf sprinters at Keeneland Saturday.

The winning margin for the 7-10 favorite Soaring Free was 1 1/2 lengths in a track-record equaling time of 1:01 3/5 for the 5 1/2-furlong grass test. Chosen Chief, ridden by Dean Butler, finished a half-length in front of another outsider, 29-1 Banned in Boston, in the 12-horse field.

The Woodbine-based Soaring Free was between horses early and under pressure from Chosen Chief and Cat Singer while clicking off sizzling fractions of :21 2/5, :44 and :55 3/5. Chosen Chief edged in front briefly in the stretch before Soaring Free found another gear in mid-stretch and edged away to victory.

"We had a great trip, but not the trip I expected," Sellers said. "He was running free and easy. He's deceivingly quick. He took me to the lead and from then on I was pretty much trying to save him. He turned for home and opened that big long stride."

Winning trainer Mark Frostad was happy with the performance of Soaring Free, who was making his first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) in October.

"We haven't won a race here in a while," he said. "He looked very fresh and strong. I was happy about that. You never know first time out. He's been off quite a while but he's come back very well, obviously."

Soaring Free earned $71,362 for his eighth win in 15 lifetime starts, increasing his ledger to $875,044.

Butler had no complaints aboard Chosen Chief. "They were really flying. He broke a step slow and that might have cost us a little bit. To lose to a Breeders' Cup horse is no shame."

With Brice Blanc aboard, Banned in Boston rallied well in the stretch to edge Cat Singer for third by a half-length. They were followed by Day Trader, Red Lightning, Abderian, Fiscally Speaking, Blakelock, Doc D, Prince Alphie and Airbourne Command.

Soaring Free paid $3.40, $3.20 and $2.80. Chose Chief returned $20 and $12. Banned in Boston's show was $10.40. The exacta was worth $66.40.

(Chart, Equibase)